Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Sep 2010 20:06 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless So, we have the iPad out and about for a while now, doing its thing, most likely selling well. Of course, others want a piece of that pie as well, so we see tablets pop up all over the place, most of which are either ultra-low budget junk or vapourware (how that's Adam coming along, Notion Ink?). Earlier this year, Steve Ballmer proudly held up HP's Windows 7-powered Slate - but then, HP bought Palm, canned the Slate, promised a webOS tablet, and then resurrected the Slate as an enterprise product. Now we have a video of the Windows 7-powered Slate. Let's compare it to Samsung's detailed overview of its Galaxy Tab, and see ever so clearly why HP canned the darn thing in the first place.
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A hardware button dedicated for Ctrl-Alt-Del!

This thing is a joke.

Well, I'd have loved such a hardware feature on my grandma's eMac running Mac OS 9 ^^ It was not powerful enough to run OSX, and would crash so often than even hitting the keyboard keystroke became cumbersome in the end...

We're both joking about old memories. Modern and mature desktop OSs like Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.4 are both reliable enough (I'll avoid talking about 10.5+ as far as reliability is concerned). During all that time I've spent handling computers running Win7 RTM and OSX 10.4, I never had to kill a single application using the task manager.

This button is not about killing applications (which is now handled through ctl+shift+esc by the way). It's about switching users, as some pointed out. The ctl+alt+suppr has been turned to a way to do that since the XP pro days...

Adding a skin to Windows 7 won't work.

...however, we agree there. Touch input on windows 7 is a joke. Years of pixel-based button sizing and positioning won't disappear that easily. For a single operating system to work on both touch-based to... content-consumption devices with poor input resolution and desktop computers, it requires deep changes in the GUI toolkit. And microsoft hasn't done those yet, afaik.

Microsoft's lingering inability to give up it's Windows Everywhere strategy has killed its ability to compete in the new tech phase.

I don't agree with that. A single operating system can work on a wide range of platforms. Its APIs just have to be flexible enough. As an example, Linux runs on embedded devices, and it's still the same old Darwin that's at the heart of iOS and OSX with its fellow Cocoa API that has just received a few touch-oriented tweaks.

In fact I think it's possible to make portability work at an even higher level than the kernel and low-level API layers, though proving it (or failing to do so) will take me some time. Flash 10.1 is already an interesting step in that direction, though it's not ready yet.

If you want a touch based tablet that actually works and will sell then you need an OS completely written and designed for touch. This means rethinking much more than just the physical differences between a mouse or finger interaction mechanism.

Again, this is arguable. In my current experience of OS development, it's only at a very high level that the way you interact with the device actually starts to matter. And even at that level, things can go smoothly, provided that the OS was made with all means of interaction in mind. As an example, an OS that has automatic widget resizing and relevant widget deletion when running low on screen size or input resolution could theoretically run both on a desktop PC and a tablet. It would however fail at fully exploiting the capabilities of a 3D interface like those we might see in the future.

It goes deeper, it profoundly effects stuff like the whole desktop/folder/file metaphor.

Not really. In real life, a desktop is a rectangular area where you find stuff that you're working with. You'll find a virtual equivalent of that on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, WebOS, Symbian, and iOS. The sole difference is whether you favor a file-based interface (like the current Mac OS desktop) or an application-based interface (like Windows 3.1 did). In the former, you can access and manage the information stored on your computer in a quicker and easier fashion, which is nice for work and other creative tasks. The latter kind is more useful for leisure tasks like gaming that don't create any kind of useful information.

Tablets and touch are new things and we are entering a new era.

New ? No. They are just a new spawn of consumption-oriented computing, logically following previous work on DAPs, PMPs, video game consoles, and cellphones by trying to unify them all in a single device, just like desktop computers have unified many information-processing tools in a single cheap tool. And contrary to the desktop which opened a full world of opportunities compared with those tools they replace, tablets currently don't improve any of those concepts much, except in the web browsing area.

Wake me up when you see a gaming device with a three-dimensional display or mean of interaction. When you see a PMP which actually makes you *feel* inside the movie you're watching through neural connection. When a phone allows people to meet in a virtual world, feeling like they're actually back together. When people can transmit thoughts reliably over a large distance, or discover what happens exactly in their brains when they dream.

THAT's change. Touch input is just a good-old bidimensional pointer on a bidimensional screen, only one with low input resolution in exchange of the output flexibility needed to make all of that work on a single device. Nothing to get crazy about. I don't see a new era there, just a shiny spawn of our good old consumption society dating back from the opening of the first supermarket back in the middle of the 20th century

Edited 2010-09-24 16:09 UTC

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